Sept. 6: The Congress has locked up all its 16 winners of the Malda zilla parishad at an undisclosed location in Calcutta, apprehending a bid by the Trinamul Congress to woo any of them to form the board on September 10.
In the polls held to the zilla parishad in July, the Congress and the Left Front won 16 seats each, while Trinamul candidates could sail through in only six wards.
In the 38-member zilla parishad, any party would need the support of 20 members to form the board, for which elections will be held on September 10.
The Congress’s apprehension stems from the Trinamul leadership’s decision to put up candidates to take control of the zilla parishad. The Left Front has decided not to put up any candidate.
Sources in the district Congress said the members were being kept in a private guest house.
“Our MP, Mausam Noor is arranging everything and the members are being well looked after. They will arrive in Malda a day before the elections,” said a source said.
State Congress leaders said in Calcutta that the decision to segregate its 16 members was taken at the instance of the top leadership.
“We have brought all our 16 victorious zilla parishad members to an undisclosed destination in Calcutta so that Trinamul cannot rope them in to form the zilla parishad,” a PCC general secretary said this afternoon.
Sabina Yasmin, the Congress MLA from Mothabari in Malda, said the zilla parishad members had also been asked to stop talking on their cell phones.“We have instructed all the 16 members to switch off their mobile phones so that they cannot be reached by anybody,” said Yasmin.
The sources said Malda Congress general secretary, Narendranath Tewary, who was the former chairman of the Englishbazar municipality, had boarded the Sealdah-bound Gour Express with the 16 members on Tuesday night to bring them to Calcutta.
When contacted over the phone in Calcutta, Tewary admitted that the party had learnt lessons from the Englishbazar panchayat samiti formation.
“We are sure that Trinamul will dangle carrots before our members in a desperate bid to make them defect. We have taken our zilla parishad members to Calcutta and the PCC is fully aware of this,” said Tewary.
However, he didn’t disclose the location in Calcutta where the members were being kept. According to Yasmin, the party’s decision came after Trinamul managed to woo four victorious members of the Englishbazar panchayat samiti to form the board on August 30.
The Englishbazar panchayat samiti was also hung with no party having a majority after the declaration of the results of the rural polls. Of the 32 seats, the Trinamul had won 15, the Congress 13 and the CPM four.
The four Congress members of the Englishbazar panchayat samiti, who defected to Trinamul to help it form the board, were Shakila Bibi, who was made the saha sabhapati, and Tafazul Shiekh, Mirza Masid Anwar and Mohsina Bibi.
The formation of the zilla parishad has got even more complicated with the district Left Front deciding to write to its chairman and CPM state secretary Biman Bose for a rethink on the participation in the elections to the post of the sabhapati and saha sabhapati.
A section of the Left Front leadership in the district suggested that there should be a fresh look at the situation.
“We have contested the zilla parishad formation with far less members in the past. We have the same tally as the Congress this time and we should put up candidates for the zilla parishad,” said a Front leader.
CPM district secretary, Ambar Mitra, said the demand to contest the election came from the other constituents of the Left Front. “Our constituents have raised the demand to contest for the posts of sabhapati and saha sabhapati. We have informed the Left Front chairman, Biman Bose (about the demand),” said Mitra.
Of the 16 Left Front members, 12 are from the CPM, and one from the Socialist Party, RSP, Forward Bloc and CPI each.